Going forward, as more and more electronics become part of a car, it will cease to be mere hardware that takes you from point A to B, but more software that, among other things, can be updated over the air, says Kishor Patil, co-founder, MD & CEO of KPIT Technologies-the software solutions provider to the global automotive and mobility industry. Earlier this week, KPIT announced setting up of the European Software Engineering Center in Munich, Germany. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that it will be KPIT’s largest global software integration and technology centre in areas of electrification, autonomous driving, AUTOSAR (AUTomotiveOpenSystemARchitecture) and vehicle diagnostics.
Why did you choose to open a software engineering centre in Germany, and maybe not another one in India?
We already have such big centres in India and elsewhere, but we are a global company with multiple development centres, and the kind of areas we are working in (including electrification, autonomous driving, digital cockpit design) find a lot of application in the European, US and Japanese markets. The Munich centre brings us closer to our customers in Europe. In fact, it will complement our other global engineering centres in the US, Japan, Thailand, China and India. The aim, among other things, is to provide seamless software delivery into global vehicle programmes. However, our maximum workforce is in India, followed by Germany, and then in all the places wherever there is an automotive ecosystem.
Who will be the employees at the Munich centre, and how do you plan to run it during Covid-19?
There will be over 700 employees from more than 25 nationalities, and in the interest of employee safety during Covid19, we will be taking utmost precautions for a phase-wise occupation of the facility over the coming months. MicroFuzzy, a KPIT group company specialising in software for electrification, will also make the Munich centre its home, going forward.
Do you also provide solutions to Indian auto majors?
While our solutions are definitely employed in many Indian vehicles, about 95%of our work is for global customers and their suppliers. In fact, Europe is now our largest growth market.
With so much software finding way into cars, is it correct to call a modern car a smartphone/gadget on four wheels?
Yes, the usage of software is increasing by the year. Going forward, as cars go more and more electronic, hardware will cease to be the most important part of a car; software will take its place. Already, a lot of modern cars are capable of over-the-air updates. Features such as the entertainment system and other connected features get outdated very soon, so the only way to keep your car relevant is over-the-air updates (or by visiting a showroom or a service centre where manual updates can be done). Software is what will increasingly define modern cars. And not just cars, our software also finds application in two-wheelers. We offer navigation and connected two-wheeler solutions.
What work do you specifically do in the field of autonomous driving?
There are different levels of autonomous driving-from level 2 (assisted driving) to level 5 (fully self-driving car). From level2to level 5, we do all the software development and integration. In fact, BMW has selected KPITas the software development partner for autonomous driving.